Android BYOD: How I Use the Android Work Profile to Separate Work from Personal
About a year ago, I made the switch to Android and have been using the work profile on my Pixel (and now my Pixel 2 XL) ever since. The more I use it, the more I am convinced that Google has built something truly special for the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) user. I wanted to share my experiences for those of you just getting started with the work profile for Android BYOD.
What Is the Android Work Profile Anyway?
For those of you not familiar with Android’s work profile, it is a way for IT to provide access to work apps and resources on your Android device, while ensuring your private data is separate and not visible to IT.
In fact, the work apps have a briefcase logo on the app icon to indicate that the app has been provided by your organization. All my work apps are also organized in a “Work” folder so I can easily access it from the home screen. I can sleep soundly every night knowing that with the work profile, IT has absolutely no way of completely wiping my phone clean and deleting my personal data, such as my priceless family photos.
To get the work profile on my phone, all I had to do was install the AirWatch Agent and authenticate with my corporate credentials. As soon as enrollment was complete, I saw the creation of the work profile on my home screen with the badged work apps.
Separating Work & Personal on My Android
The work profile creates the best visual separation of apps and data on the device. Here are three ways I see and use that separation daily:
1. Separate Apps & Data
It is initially glaring to see two icons on the home screen for the same app, but once you start using it you’ll wonder what you did without it. This is a fact I quickly realized when I picked up a different enrolled device and was constantly switching between work and personal accounts on the Microsoft OneNote app, accidentally saving my grocery list on my work OneNote account.
Here’s an example of how I use the separate apps. I have the Photos app in the work profile and a personal Photos app. My Photos app in the work profile is filled with pictures of whiteboard artwork from various meetings, and none of these pictures show up in my personal Photos app.
Once you start using it you’ll wonder what you did without it.
This is very helpful because I don’t see these whiteboard pictures as an option when I try to share media with my friends on WhatsApp (which is not in the work profile). However, when I open Slack (which is in the work profile), I can easily share the whiteboard photos with my colleagues. Similar reasoning applies for pictures of receipts I use for expense reporting in Concur.
2. An Integrated Experience
The briefcase icon is present throughout the Android experience, not just in the work folder. When I receive a notification from a work app, it has the briefcase icon so I know it’s work related.
If I search for a work contact within the personal Phone app, they are shown separate from my personal contacts and personal directory integrations (and have the briefcase icon). In the Recent Apps view, apps from the work profile have the word “Work” added in, as you can see in the screenshot.
3. Keep Preferences Personal
I work hard to customize my phone as much as possible. Like fine-tuning the perfect Spotify playlist, it’s important to have a phone that gets your commands and gestures and can predict exactly what you’re looking for. Luckily, with the work profile, my phone still gets me, but now it gets me across my personal and professional personas.
My work apps are not downloaded using my personal Google account, so my app recommendations on my personal Play Store are not affected. I have different bookmarks for my personal and work Chrome browsers, as well. The bookmarks in my work Chrome browser are useful intranet sites, while the bookmarks on my personal Chrome browser are filled with my favorite tech blogs and news feeds.
With the work profile, my phone still gets me, but now it gets me across my personal and professional personas.
I even get different predictions from my work Chrome browser versus my personal. On my work Chrome browser, when I type the letter “V,” I get a prediction back about VMware, whereas on my personal Chrome browser, when I type the letter “V,” I get back something related to virtual reality or video games.
Separate Passcode for Work Apps
We can all agree that when you pick up your phone (more often than we’d like to admit) to check Twitter, read text messages or change what is playing on Spotify, you do not want to constantly enter a complex passcode. With the work profile, I still get to choose what type of password I want to unlock my phone. I just unlock my phone with my fingerprint, and a complex passcode prompt is only shown to me when I try to launch an app in the work profile.
I have added my Bluetooth headphones as a “trusted device,” so when I am listening to music, I am not prompted to enter a passcode to unlock the device. However, trusted devices do not apply to the work profile. I am always shown a passcode prompt when I launch a work app, and my trusted device preferences for the personal side are not affected.
Leave Work Behind on Vacation
This has got to be one of my favorite features with the work profile. It seems so unbelievably obvious and makes you wonder why all platforms don’t have it. You can TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS FROM WORK APPS!
There is a handy toggle when you swipe down from the top, or through the Settings app. So when I am on vacation, I am not inundated with work email notifications and Slack messages.